Winestate Tasting – Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Wines Tasted

  1. Coal Pit Vineyard, Sauvignon Blanc, 2011
  2. Coal Pit Vineyard, Pinot Noir, 2012
  3. Flint’s of Coonawarra, Rostrevor Shiraz, 2008
  4. Flint’s of Coonawarra, Rostrevor Shiraz, 2007

Yesterday I attend the Winestate tasting of boutique wines from Australia and New Zealand. Winestate Magazine is Australia and New Zealand’s oldest wine publication and has been in existence since 1978.

Comparatively, this was a smaller tasting than recent tastings I have attended in Hong Kong, which was a welcome change because it provided a good opportunity to chat to the representatives of the wineries – often the wine makers or viticulturists themselves. Unfortunately I didn’t taste everything that was on offer but what I did taste was very interesting indeed. The two standouts for me were Coal Pit Vineyard from Central Otago in New Zealand and Flint’s of Coonawarra, Australia.

Coal Pit is in the Gibbston region of Central Otago and the wine that really caught my attention was their Sauvignon Blanc from 2011. Having grown up in New Zealand and drinking my fair share of the grassy style of Sauvignon Blanc that New Zealand is so famous for, I now find myself avoiding drinking Kiwi Savvy at all costs. Coal Pit’s Sauvignon Blanc however did much to change my mind. The wine is driven by fruit aromas and flavours rather than a grassy, herbaceous profile.

In talking to the viticulturist, Gary Crabbe, he explained how the long hang time available in Central Otago was used to allow the grapes to ripen beyond the typical grassy flavours. The focus on fruit is further enhanced by selecting a yeast for fermentation that will help develop passion fruit and stone fruit characteristics. Typically Sauvignon Blanc is fermented in stainless steel tanks to ensure a lighter style of wine without any flavours from oak. Coal Pit ferment 10% of their Sauvignon Blanc in oak with the remainder in stainless steel tanks sur lie. Sur lie is a French term meaning “on the lees”, that is to leave the wine in contact with the lees, or dead yeast cells, which will impart flavour and texture to the wine.

Coal Pit Viticulturist
Gary Crabbe, Viticulturist, Coal Pit Vineyard

In tasting this wine I was reminded why I love gooseberries and passion fruit – I did after all grow up in New Zealand – but these flavours are fuller, riper versions of the fruits that are nicely balanced by a good dose of mouthwatering acidity. Gary also confirmed there was 6g/L of residual sugar, which would categorise it as an off-dry wine – most Sauvignon Blancs are dry wines where the residual sugar in the wine is undetectable on the palate. I found this very refreshing because the acid levels were high enough to leave the palate cleansed. These subtle differences from the stereotypical Kiwi Savvy have produced a wine that is a pleasure to drink with ripe fruit flavours of passion fruit, gooseberry and white peach balanced by a refreshing acidity and pleasing texture and mouthfeel. Coal Pit also produces a lovely Pinot Noir of violets, red fruits and spice and the details of where to purchase their wines can be found on their website here.

The other wines I particularly enjoyed tasting were the 2007 and 2008 Rostrevor Shriaz from Flint’s of Coonawarra. The grapes are grown on the terra rossa soil for which Coonawarra is known. This tiny wine region is a narrow strip of land in South Australia on the border with Victoria, with crumbly red soil that gives way to free draining limestone after less than a metre and then on to a constant table of water below. The red wines made here have distinctive eucalyptus and cedar aromas and the two wines I tasted did not disappoint. What I particularly liked about both wines was the elegance and finesse evident in the structure and balance of the wines. The wine felt smooth and velvety in the mouth with a good balance of ripe fruits, savoury spice, medium acidity and soft chalky tannins – a perfect food wine and a wine structure that will continue to age nicely.

Damian Flint Flint's of Coonawarra
Damian Flint, Winemaker, Flint’s of Coonawarra

Speaking with Damian, the winemaker from Flint’s, was an absolute treat. This is a man who has spent his life in the region, grew up on a farm and over the years accumulated the land his family once owned to now farm it himself and produce grapes, potatoes and to manage livestock. He knows his land and his vines and picks the same rows for each vintage – what an interesting vertical tasting that would make! Clearly I’m not the only person who enjoys these wines with the most recent award of many being a Blue Gold Medal in the 2013 Sydney International Wine Competition and inclusion in the Top 100 for the 2008 Rostrevor Shiraz. The good news is not only are Flint’s of Coonawarra available in Australia but they are also available in Hong Kong from Adelaide Cellar Door.

Happy Drinking!

Tasting Notes

Coal Pit Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, 2011

Pale lemon colour. Aromas of gooseberries, passion fruit and stone fruit. On the palate medium body, medium plus acidity with flavours of cooked gooseberries, ripe passion fruit, white peach with a medium plus finish ending with freshly picked apricots.

Coal Pit Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2012

Medium ruby colour. Aromas of violets and spice. On the palate medium tannins and medium acidity with flavours of ripe red cherries and forest floor. Medium finish.

Flint’s of Coonawarra Rostrevor Shiraz, 2008

Medium plus ruby colour with purple hues. Aromas of eucalyptus, cedar and tobacco, red fruits and spice. On the palate medium plus soft chalky tannins, medium acidity with flavours of ripe plums, red cherries, vanilla and pepper, medium plus finish.

Flint’s of Coonawarra Rostrevor Shiraz, 2007

Medium plus ruby colour. Aromas of eucalyptus, cedar, red fruits, spice and forest floor. On the palate medium plus soft chalky tannins, medium acidity with flavours of red cherries, plums, vanilla, pepper and wet leaves, medium plus finish.

Related Happy Wine Woman Posts

Pinot Noir: Circe, John Forrest, Kumeu River, Payten & Jones

Shiraz: Payten & Jones

Syrah: Jamsheed


Coal Pit Vineyard

Flint’s of Coonawarra

Jancis Robinson Purple Pages

Johnson, H. & Robinson, J. (2007). The World Atlas of Wine. Great Britain: Mitchell Beazley.

Robinson, J. (Ed.) (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine. New York: Oxford University Press Inc.

Published by Happy Wine Woman

Wine consultant currently based in Melbourne, Australia.

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